IFMA North Alabama

Member Spotlight

K Wayne McVay
Facilities Manager
Alabama Super Computer Authority

Wayne joined IFMA in January of 1990 and is currently one of the North Alabama Chapter's longest standing members. Bob Barnes, IFMA treasurer and Wayne's manager at that time, encouraged him to become part of the organization. "We only had around 20 members but, as facility professionals, we all had the same problems to solve. It was great to be able to collaborate with the group and exchange experiences, information and ideas", Wayne stated. His IFMA family has proven to be invaluable throughout his facilities career.

Born in Mobile, Wayne relocated to Huntsville in 1962 with his family after his father was caught in a reduction in force at Brookley Air Force Base. His father, an instructor for the Air Force, transferred to a similar position for the Army at a booming (no pun intended) Redstone Arsenal. His father, mother, sister and brother-in-law have all retired from civil service on Redstone. Wayne is the only member of his immediate family in State civil service.

Wayne's work career started in 1974 as an electrician's helper for Wall Electric Company. He worked through his electrical apprenticeship with Wall, Valley Electric, JS Electric and Wells & Tate before landing with Jesse Stutts, Inc. (JSI) in 1979. He worked with JSI throughout the 80's as a commercial electrical construction superintendent specializing in the installation of large mainframe computers, such as the CDC Cyber 7700 and the Cray X-MP. He left the electrical field in 1989 taking the position of Facilities Engineer with McDonnell Douglas Aeronautics Huntsville Division where he was eventually promoted to Facility Manager. He parted with McDonnell Douglas in 1994 for the Facilities Manager's position with the Alabama Supercomputer Authority (ASA). He began managing the Alabama Supercomputer Center (ASC) in Cummings Research Park ironically overseeing one of the very computers he had installed during his tenure with JSI. He is now approaching 25 years of service with the Authority.

The ASC was erected in 1987 as a vision of Governor George C. Wallace. Governor Wallace visited a supercomputer center in Japan during the mid-1980s and imagined that a similar operation could advance research and technology in Alabama.  The Authority was created by legislative act in 1989 to oversee the ASC and the Alabama Research and Education Network (AREN). The network was originally designed to connect Alabama's six research universities (Alabama, Auburn, UAH, UAB, Alabama A&M and the University of South Alabama) to the Cray X-MP supercomputer for educational research.  The ASC was the first state funded supercomputer center in the country.   Previously, all other supercomputer centers were federally funded. In addition to supporting high performance computing, ASA also provides network and internet services for Alabama K-12 schools, colleges, universities and libraries. The ASC serves as a disaster recovery site for several state agencies and hosts email and web services for individual schools and systems. It also develops applications for the Alabama State Department of Education and facilitates distance learning for Alabama schools through the Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators & Students Statewide (ACCESS) program.

"When I started work at the Center, we had very little infrastructure in place to maintain the integrity of the supercomputer, the researchers data, or the network", Wayne said. The only electrical backup was an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system with around 45 minutes of runtime which allowed for a somewhat 'graceful' shutdown of the supercomputer. "Once the batteries were exhausted, we just sat in the dark until the power came on so we could start bringing the systems back up." Since that time Wayne has overseen the installation of loop utility feeds, redundant primary and secondary UPS systems, dual-fuel (diesel & natural gas) parallel redundant backup electrical generators and generator backed HVAC for cooling. His efforts in these areas paid off during the 2011 tornado outbreak when the Center maintained operation for seven days without utility power. "We lost the natural gas generator about four days into the outage due to a massive mechanical failure but were able to keep everything up on the diesel until power was restored. I hope we're never in that situation again but we are now better prepared thanks to the lessons learned". Thankfully, those early days of sitting in the dark have long since passed.

Wayne has been married to his wonderful wife Deborah, a retired Senior Contracts Administrator for Boeing, since 1984. After living in the Huntsville/Madison area for over 30 years, they moved to a 35 acre farm in Blanche, TN in 2015. Long time empty nesters they now enjoy the quiet country life with their three Chinese Shar-Pei rescue dogs.

Wayne attended Ridgecrest Elementary, Westlawn Junior High, and S.R. Butler High School in Huntsville. He holds Associate in Science degrees from Calhoun Community College in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. He furthered his education with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Athens State University and a then Master of Science in Management from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). He is a true product of the Huntsville area educational system he has dutifully supported over the last 24+ years.

 

Coordinated by North Alabama IFMA Chapter member Kyle Willoughby, Willoughby Roofing and Sheet Metal, Inc.

 


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